Every Mahapurana states that Vishnu Purana has 23 thousand verses but if we count the actual no. of verses there are only around 7000. So about 16 thousand verses are missing.

I found another purana, the Vishnudharmottara, on Exotic India which appears related to Vishnu Purana. So I have the following questions:

  • Is Vishnu Purana a composite of 2 or more puranas?

  • Was Vishnudharmottara originally the second part of Vishnu Purana?

  • The Vishnudharmotta Purana is an 'Upapurana', or auxiliary Purana to the Vishnu Purana.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Sep 13, 2020 at 13:41
  • The original version of most sacred texts in Hinduism were supposed to have diagrams along with the text. Thus when the images were cut out, presumably for being hard to replicate properly, the text directly referencing them was also removed as it did not make sense anymore. This could also explain why some sacred texts have more verses than claimed elsewhere in them, as some of the information in the diagrams is converted into text. Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 20:11

1 Answer 1


The Nārada Purāṇa while listing the contents of Viṣṇu Purāṇa does include the Viṣṇudharmottara, however, it's listed towards the end of the chapter.


The Viṣṇu Purāṇa: The Table of Contents

Śrī Brahmā said:

1. O dear child, listen. I shall narrate the great Purāṇa of Viṣṇu. It contains twenty-three thousand verses. It is destructive of all sins.

2. In the first section, six divisions have been made by the descendant of Śakti i.e. Parāśara. In the first division the introduction to the Purāṇa is made to Maitreya.


16-17a. The story of Kali is mentioned, the four types of dissolution. The Knowledge of Brahman reviewed by Keśidhvaja (for the benefit) of Khaṇḍikya. So the sixth division is recounted.

17b-18. Hereafter, the perpetual virtues called Viṣṇudharmottaras are mentioned by Sūta on being respectfully asked by Śaunaka and others. Many holy stories, holy rites, observances, and restraints were also described by him.

19-20. Dharma-śāstra (Code of Laws), Arthaśāstra (Political economy), Vedānta (Metaphysics), Jyotiṣa (Astronomy and Astrology), the narration of the races, hymns according to the context; and dynasties, Manvantaras (or Manus); different vidyās (lores) that are beneficial to the worlds are described. This is verily the Viṣṇu Purāṇa which is a succinct collection of all the topics of sacred scriptures.


And as this footnote by the translator (G. V. Tagare) suggests, when other Mahāpurāṇas say the Viṣṇu Purāṇa contains 23,000 verses, the verses from Viṣṇudharmottara are also taken into account:

Though the NP. and some other Purāṇas such as the Vāyu, Matsya, Bhāgavata and Brahma-Vaivarta state that VP consists of 23000 verses, the printed editions give only 6000 verses.

The Gita Press edition has 6373 verses. It appears that the NP. in verses 17b-18, regards VP and Viṣṇudharmottara Purāṇa as one book while Śaṅkara (800 A.D.) regards them as two separate works (PJ VIII 94-96) showing thereby that the present NP. was settled before 800 A.D.

  • Does the Vishnu Dharmottara Purana have 16000 verse?
    – Surya
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 12:08

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